When the Little Rock Zoo opened its gates in 1926, it contained fewer animals than many people's homes. At the time, its inhabitants were, in total, a circus-trained brown bear and an abandoned timber wolf. From its formative days, the Little Rock Zoo has expanded dramatically, now home to more than 700 animals from more than 200 unique species. Visitors can witness lions, tigers, and jaguars up close; interact with exotic birds; and carefully navigate spider monkeys' webs. In addition to conserving wildlife, the zoo also preserves a unique antique carousel, one of only four in the world to feature an undulating wooden track rather than conventional moving poles.
More than 200 of The Painted Pig's bone-white, clay-skinned bisque items await the adoring strokes and huggable hues of a hungry, loving artist-owner. Choose your pottery piece from a variety of items, such as mugs, bowls, plates, drawer pulls, and banks (ranging from $1.50 to $100 each, with an average value of about $20). The price includes the piece itself, paint, glazing, and firing. After picking paint colors, you're free to head to The Painted Pig's Idea Center, which supplies an array of books, stamps, sponges, and stencils, or tap the expertise of the studio's friendly staff to stir creative capital from cranial couches. Upon completion of the finishing dabs and drizzlings, you'll hand your claysterpiece to the caring hands of The Painted Pig's glazing and firing squad. The glazing and firing process takes 7–10 days.
Cary and Gina Martin were on a bus tour of Minneapolis–Saint Paul when Cary was struck with a thought: why not bring these types of tours to Little Rock? Gina quickly got on board, and Little Rock Tours and Travel was born. Initially, both Martins kept their jobs in broadcast journalism–Cary was a news anchor and Gina was a reporter, which inspired them to incorporate video clips into the tours. Eventually, Cary and Gina left their day jobs to run their business full time, but this journalistic aspect of the tours remains one of its strongest draws. Little Rock Tours and Travel also plans sightseeing tours, including trips to local casinos and DeGray Lake Resort State Park as well as dinner cruises down the Arkansas River.
Award-winning master brewer Jesse Melton crafts Diamond Bear's brews with creative recipes that honor traditional German beer-purity laws, merging fragrant hops and aged yeast with two-row malted barley and clean, filtered water sourced from Lakes Winona and Maumelle. The resulting beers range from the Southern Blonde or Irish Red to the Paradise porter, which combines chocolate malt with a bevy of hops for the best balance of sweet and bitter since Candy Land went on strike. During the tour, guides lead groups of ale aficionados throughout the facility, instilling information and granting glimpses of the equipment used during each stage of the brewing process. Along the way, guests older than 21 savor individual beer samples, and non-imbibers and underage participants partake of bubbly root beer. All tour-goers depart the malt mecca toting a souvenir Diamond Bear pint glass. Sunday tours begin at 3 p.m., but participants should arrive 15–20 minutes early for pretour cuddling of the brewery's pet yeast and to ensure the tour starts in a timely fashion. Beer is also available for sale on Sundays at the brewery.
The Little Rock Carriage Company's stable of american belgian draft horses pull ornate ivory carriages on leisurely tours of downtown Little Rock. Wooden-spoke wheels rotate the rhythms of a horse-hoof percussion quartet as 30-minute carriage rides promenade past MacArthur Park, the River Market area, and enduring views of equine tails. Riders can opt to include additional riders ($5/person) to accommodate perpetual third wheels or hire Tony Bennett to commentate the sights in song.
The Museum of Discovery crams 25,000 square feet of exhibit space with a plethora of displays on world history, culture, and natural science. Features include a rare, uncursed mummy coffin, painstakingly crafted around 600 BC, as well as an animal collection of 51 species including birds of prey, a European ferret, an alligator, and a rare breed of unicorn-Jabberwocky. Permanent exhibits include Passport to the World, which guides visitors on a sweeping cultural tour with authentic artifacts, artworks, and local knowledge that help define the featured nation. Energy illustrates how coal and nuclear power keep homes lit and cell phones charged while guests use their bodies to ignite light bulbs that could illuminate living rooms, dusty attics, and even dustier Lite-Brite consoles.
Arkansas Extended Learning Center culls a massive, seasonal lineup of informative classes, recruiting chefs, artists, athletes, and other professionals to share their wisdom with students of all ages. Pupils can pick up new hobbies such as fly-fishing or digital photography, or sharpen nascent abilities in fields such as cooking and wine-tasting. Otherwise, they can tone up their physiques in fitness and dance classes, discover a new way to communicate in foreign-language workshops, or learn how to cut their way out of a hedge maze during gardening and landscaping tutorials.